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Leadership Branding: A Guide to Crafting an Impactful Leadership Identity

Leadership is much more than a position—it's a blend of unique traits, values, experiences, and vision that culminate in a distinct style. Recognizing and articulating these unique characteristics forms the essence of leadership branding.

As a leader grows in their career, the spotlight under which they find themselves may shine brighter. With an increased level of scrutiny, leaders don’t necessarily want to leave things to chance.

Leadership Branding: The What and Why

Leadership branding is the process of curating a unique leadership persona, one that authentically represents your values, principles, style, and vision. This persona becomes a powerful tool for influencing, inspiring, and connecting with your team and stakeholders at a deeper level.

A leadership brand is not a static concept but a dynamic identity, evolving as you and your organization grow.

It reflects not just who you are but also what your team and organization need. In this complex and changing business landscape, a strong brand and vision is vital to ensure you lead with purpose and authenticity.

Why is Leadership Branding Important?

A well-crafted leadership brand isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a fundamental building block of effective leadership for several key reasons:


Establishes Trust: Consistency in actions and communication is a cornerstone of trust. A well-defined leadership brand provides that consistency, leading to trust-building among your team and stakeholders. 

According to a Harvard Business Review report, employees at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement, and 29% more satisfaction with their lives.


Reduces Turnover:  Employee appreciation and recognition are fundamental aspects of a healthy work culture. A strong leadership brand champions these values, ensuring that each team member feels valued for their contributions.

According to a report from Zippia, 79% of employees will quit their jobs due to a lack of appreciation. Therefore, a well-crafted leadership brand that promotes recognition can significantly decrease turnover rates


Creates Enduring Impact: Developing a personal leadership brand goes beyond immediate influence; it creates a profound and enduring impact. This includes fostering a positive employer brand, boosting financial performance, and positioning the leader as a thought leader within their sphere.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with "strong leadership brands" tend to have superior financial performance as reflected through above-average price/earnings ratios.

The Challenges of Leadership Branding

Despite its undoubted significance, the process of building a unique and influential leadership brand isn't always a smooth ride. Leaders often face several hurdles on their journey to carve out a leadership brand that genuinely reflects their values and vision. Acknowledging these challenges, and more importantly, understanding how to overcome them, is key to successfully steering your brand creation journey.


Self-reflection Struggles

The process of leadership branding begins with introspection. However, deep and honest self-reflection can be difficult. Being able to examine your leadership style objectively, acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, and considering the impact of your actions on your team and organization, demands courage and humility.

It's not uncommon for leaders to struggle with this introspective phase, either being too self-critical or too self-congratulatory, or inciting feelings of imposter syndrome. The key is to strike a balance and maintain objectivity while conducting this self-assessment.

The Imitation Trap

It's natural and even beneficial to look up to role models and seek inspiration from successful leaders in your field. However, leaders often fall into the trap of imitation, attempting to emulate their role models too closely.

Remember, your leadership brand needs to reflect your unique personality, values, and vision. While learning from others is useful, your brand should not be a carbon copy of another leader's brand. Strive to define your unique leadership identity.

Communicating Your Brand

Articulating your leadership brand to others is a common stumbling block. It's one thing to have a clear idea of your brand in your head and another to communicate it effectively to your team and stakeholders.

The way you convey your vision, values, and leadership style needs to be compelling, authentic, and consistent. Whether it's through your actions, words, or decisions, your communication needs to align with your leadership brand consistently.

Balancing Personal Ambitions and Organizational Needs

One crucial aspect of leadership branding is aligning your brand with the needs and goals of your organization. Leaders sometimes struggle to find the right balance between their personal ambitions and the strategic requirements of their company.

A successful leadership brand bridges this gap. It reflects your identity and ambitions as a leader, but it also resonates with your team and drives your organization toward its strategic objectives.


Understanding these challenges is the first step in overcoming them. By being aware of these potential pitfalls, you can navigate your leadership branding journey more confidently and effectively.

How To Create Your Leadership Brand: A Three-Step Process

Creating a compelling leadership brand involves three main stages — Discover, Design, and Deliver. This three-step process allows you to uncover what kind of leader you want to be, develop your personal leadership brand around that vision, and execute upon it.

1. Discover: Unearth Your Unique Leadership Traits

The discovery phase is about self-reflection and seeking insight into your unique leadership traits and the needs of your organization. These steps can help facilitate that process:


Initiate conversations with peers, mentors, or a professional coach. Ask open-ended questions that encourage reflection on your leadership style and goals.

Role Model Identification

Analyze leaders you admire. Their leadership style can offer valuable insights into your own leadership composition. Break down their leadership styles and traits, considering how these aspects could be adapted to your style.


Use tools like personality tests and 360-degree feedback to gain objective insights into your leadership style. 

Stakeholder Conversations

Understand the expectations, needs, and feedback of your team and other stakeholders. You might ask questions like, "What qualities do you appreciate in my leadership?" and "What areas do you think I could improve in?"

Surveys and Data Analysis

Analyze existing data from your organization to understand its needs. Align your brand with these needs to ensure congruence between your leadership and the organization.

2. Design: Shape Your Personal Leadership Brand

Once you've discovered your unique leadership traits and your organization's needs, the next step is to shape your personal leadership brand. This involves identifying your personal leadership style, crafting your narrative, and building a plan that aligns with your brand.

Identifying Your Style

Your leadership style is your approach to leading your team. It should reflect your values, personality, and the needs of your organization. For example, if your leadership brand emphasizes innovation, you might adopt a transformational leadership style, inspiring and challenging your team to think creatively.

Crafting Your Narrative

Your leadership narrative encapsulates your journey, values, vision, and style. It's the story you want to tell through your leadership. It could include overcoming adversity, key achievements, or transformative experiences that shaped you.

Build a Plan

Develop an annual communication plan or targeted social media editorial calendar to consistently convey your brand and narrative. Consider a mix of 'Burst' moments (key company announcements, webinars) and 'Hum' moments (regular blog posts, social media updates) to maintain engagement and highlight your leadership brand.

3. Deliver: Implement Your Leadership Brand

Once you've defined your brand and built your plan, the next step is to execute. This stage involves consistency in your actions, communication, and decision-making. Here's how:

Execute Your Plan

You've built your strategic communication plan – now it's time to bring it to life. Regular and planned communication, delivered through presentations, team meetings, one-on-one interactions, or internal channels, allows you to consistently convey your brand, vision, and message. Planning is just the first step. Living your brand daily is what truly sets influential leaders apart.

Enhance Your Public Persona

Ensure that your public persona reflects your leadership brand. Your public engagements and social media presence should echo your brand. If you have a LinkedIn profile, for instance, it should highlight key aspects of your brand such as your vision, achievements, and endorsements that reflect your leadership skills.

Measure and Adapt

Continually evaluate the effectiveness of your leadership brand. Use feedback and performance data to fine-tune your brand, making adjustments as needed to ensure its ongoing relevance and impact. A great leader isn't static but continually evolving, just like their brand.

Leadership Branding in Action: A Real-World Example

Let's dive into a practical case study to bring clarity to the concept of leadership branding. This example is based on our collaboration with a global pharmaceutical company at August Jackson. Our mission was to clearly define their voice, vision, and values, and develop a plan for their leaders to communicate this to their employees. This was our process:

Discovery Phase:

The journey started with an in-depth analysis of unique leadership styles, aspirations, and the specific requirements of the organization.

  • Individual Interviews: We conducted extensive one-on-one dialogues with leaders from every department. These interactions offered profound insights into their unique styles, visions, and the leaders who inspired them.
  • Personality Assessments and Surveys: In addition to the interviews, we ran personality assessments and parsed company survey data. This exercise allowed us to understand the individual characteristics that defined each leader and what their teams expected from them.
  • Role Model Analysis: Each leader shared their leadership role models. The analysis of these role models provided a clear idea of what each leader aspired to become.
  • Alignment with Organizational Needs: A critical part of our process was to ensure alignment between individual leadership styles and the strategic requirements of the organization. This alignment was crucial to guarantee that each leadership brand would be authentic, resonate with the team, and meet the organization's needs.

Design Phase:

After a comprehensive understanding of the landscape, we focused on crafting leadership brands.

  • Message Mapping: We worked closely with each leader to pinpoint the messages they wished to communicate, which formed the foundation of their leadership brands.
  • Leadership Persona Development: Based on these messages, we developed distinct leadership personas:

The Visionary — Vice President

The VP, positioned as the guiding star, would set the strategic direction for the company.

The Motivator — Sales Leader

Recognizing the Sales leader's knack for inspiring and driving momentum, we designated them as the team's motivator.

The Tactician — Marketing Leader

With a sharp focus on strategic execution, the Marketing leader emerged as the team's tactician.

Delivery Phase:

The final stage of our collaboration was about translating these leadership brands into action through an effective communication plan, featuring two distinct aspects: the "Burst" and the "Hum".

  • Annual Communication Plan: We emphasized the importance of planning for both the "Burst" and the "Hum" within their communication strategy. Each serves a unique purpose and together, they allow a leader to maintain a balanced, consistent, and effective leadership brand throughout the year.


These are high-energy, impactful moments demanding strong leadership and powerful communication. They often coincide with major organizational changes, crises, product launches, or pivotal events.

For Burst moments, we advised the leaders to:

  • Anticipate: Identify potential Burst moments in line with the company's calendar or industry trends.
  • Plan: Draft key messages ahead of time, making sure they align with their leadership brand.
  • Rehearse: Practice their delivery for confidence and authenticity during these high-stakes moments.


On the flip side, Hums represent the everyday, routine communication that maintains engagement and trust. This might include routine email updates, team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or casual interactions.

To enhance Hums, we recommended leaders to:

  • Schedule: Establish a regular rhythm of communication, such as weekly team meetings or monthly newsletters.
  • Engage: Encourage dialogue to make Hums more interactive. This could be through Q&A sessions, feedback forms, or open discussions.
  • Personalize: Customize communication to suit the audience and context. A one-size-fits-all approach might not resonate as effectively.

Through our comprehensive annual communication plan that accounted for both the Burst and Hum moments, we empowered each leader to have authentic, impactful interactions with their teams throughout the year.

Consequently, we helped shape a dynamic leadership team, each with a distinct brand and messaging strategy, who could cater to the diverse needs of the organization while staying true to their individual styles.


Need Help Building Your Leadership Brand?

Leadership branding is about combining your unique leadership traits into a coherent and impactful whole. It's about shaping and defining your persona into a form that resonates with your team, stakeholders, and organizational goals.

Crafting one is a complex process, and having experienced guidance can make all the difference. August Jackson is an experienced communications agency with a history of helping leaders shape their brands and realize their unique visions.

If you're ready to shape your brand, we invite you to start a conversation with us today. Together, we can help you craft a brand that resonates, inspires, and delivers impact.

At August Jackson, we believe that developing powerful brand engagement begins with mutual understanding and strong partnerships. We value the relationships we have with our clients and, together, aim to develop activations and communities built from the same foundation. 

Reach out to learn more!

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